WSU study finds smart home technology could help those recovering from opioid use disorder
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SPOKANE, Wash. – Smart home technology could assist those recovering from opioid use disorder, according to a pilot study conducted by researchers at Washington State University’s (WSU) College of Nursing.
Disrupted sleep is a common complaint for people actively trying to quit highly addictive opioids. According to a release from WSU, methadone is effective at reducing cravings and withdrawal, but it is often prescribed once daily and adjusting for the proper dosage can take time. Before a patient and doctor can get the dosage right, treatments can wear off during the night, returning withdrawal symptoms and pain – which increases the risk of resuming drug use and accidental overdose.
The study, published in the journal Pain Management Nursing, found home sensors matched other sleep monitoring methods 89% of the time.
“One day when people go home from addiction treatment, we could send them to a smart home sensor environment, so we can know remotely if they’re struggling to sleep and getting up and down a lot,” said lead author Marian Wilson, a WSU nursing professor. “We know that poor sleep is a trigger for substance use and could lead to unintended overdose.”
The study was designed to create a system that could identify problems such as sleep apnea and other breathing issues as well as physical movement indicating poor sleep. The information could potentially help alert healthcare workers of problems and prompt medication changes or supportive interventions.
“Our study confirms what people with opioid use disorder have been saying — their sleep can be restless and disturbed. We need to appreciate that people may be suffering,” said Wilson. “There’s a misconception that substance use is all about that euphoric ‘high.’ By the time people get into a methadone treatment program, they’re usually just trying to feel normal.”
The next step for this research would be to test the sensor concept in homes instead of a lab, which would involve placing sensors in the homes of patients who are being discharged from in-patient treatment programs or starting an outpatient medication treatment program.